Changing lives and improving patient care are at the core of ResMed’s mission. Our products are engineered so that each is better than the last, and they can more effectively help the end user, the patient. This kind of market, however, faces unique challenges when it comes to marketing products in the most effective way.
Our potential customer base is extensive both geographically and in sheer numbers. As with all businesses, large markets must be segmented in order to decide which customer needs are going to be met, and to what extent we can satisfy them. This is a daunting task when we take into consideration the unique needs of each individual patient, and even more so when we count in the HMEs.
Since we are not a direct-to-consumer business, market segmentation (as an element of strategic marketing) becomes an important topic of discussion. To start, it requires an understanding of what defines a ResMed customer. It is easy to simply say the end user is our primary customer since we engineer products to solve patient problems. However, we must also consider the value that we add for health care professionals who diagnose and manage treatment, as well as for the insurance companies or whoever is writing the check for our product. Should we allocate more of our time and resources to add value for the primary buyer or for the end user? When done effectively, market segmentation should allow us to meet the most prominent needs of the majority of our customers, on both the prescribing and receiving end of treatment.
The AirFit and AirTouch both provide a perfect example of the way we look at segmentation. With these masks, we are able to address different needs for different kinds of customers. The end goal of course was to add value for the patient, which was achieved by creating an overall more comfortable mask that was easier to fit. Going beyond this though, there is added value for the medical providers. They can fit patients faster with added comfort that will ultimately increase compliance rates. And now, with more of our healthcare informatics built into our devices, connected care is helping compliance rates increase. It comes full circle as the payers (insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid, etc.) become interested in the data that we are providing.
The different needs of the different market segments must be weighed and balanced constantly, and as markets change we too must innovate the way in which we interact with them. The respiratory care world differs dramatically from market to market, especially geographically. Take for example China, where ventilators are far more frequently used in hospitals. That is a unique aspect of the market, in the same way that life support ventilators are an emerging segment in the US, whereas Europe has a longer history of home care (home-based chronic ventilation). We must also consider that geographically, there are specific policies put in place by governments or buyers. With so many different factors at play, our portfolio is going to look very different from one geographical segment to the next.
In the same way that the AirFit and AirTouch were designed and marketed with multiple segments in mind, we also have to decide what resources and tactics to use in the various geographic locations. As we move forward in this fast changing industry, we must continuously evaluate the unique characteristics of every potential segment in order to understand the most pressing needs in each market, and our ability to satisfy those needs.